Where Venture Capital, Quality and Patient Data Collide
New digital health technologies are attracting billions in venture capital funding. This money represents potential new sources of patient health data for your quality department to manage. How are you preparing?
In the not too distant past, watching television meant turning a knob and choosing among about half a dozen local TV stations whose scheduled broadcasts you picked via aluminum foil-enhanced antennas on the big TV set in your living room. Today, you can watch anything from anywhere on any device at any time, wherever you are.
A similar transformation is happening with patient health data, and it will dramatically change how you, as a hospital or health system quality leader, do your job.
Today, you're manually or automatically culling patient health data from your hospital's EHR system to build and report quality measures to Medicare and other payers, and to use in your own internal quality-improvement programs. But soon, that patient health data will come at a constant flow from myriad devices.
Why? Because venture capital is flowing in record amounts to all kinds of digital health companies. Those companies, in turn, are building all kinds of digital health technologies that capture patient health data. That data will need to find a way into your quality measures to make them as meaningful as possible for quality-improvement purposes—particularly as care moves far beyond the four walls of your hospital and becomes more preventive than interventional.
So, where will all that new patient health data come from? We’re going to do as the adage says and follow the money. Let's take a look at a few recent reports on venture capital funding of digital health technology to see where the money is flowing.
Investing in Digital Health
In the first six months of this year, investors poured $14.7 billion in venture capital into digital health technology companies. There were 372 different deals, according to the mid-year digital health report from Rock Health, the San Francisco-based digital health venture capital firm. That dollar figure tops all of 2020, which itself set a record at $14.6 billion in venture capital.
According to Rock Health, the six “value propositions”—types of digital health tech—that got the most money from January through June were:
- Research and development
- On-demand healthcare
- Fitness and wellness
- Treatment of disease
- Consumer information
- Non-clinical workflow
The six “clinical indications”—clinical targets of digital health tech—that got the most money from January through June were:
- Mental health
- Cardiovascular disease
- Primary care
- Substance-use disorders
And in a separate report released in March, Rock Health noted an increase in the willingness of consumers to use digital health tech. For example:
- 43% said they used live video telemedicine last year, up from 32% in 2019
- 43% said they owned a wearable health device last year, up from 33% in 2019
- 54% said they used a digital health tracking device last year, up from 42% in 2019
A number of other reports echo what Rock Health is saying. Though each report uses slightly different definitions and methodologies, they all show that the venture capital market is building a new, digitally driven patient health data ecosystem that will affect hospital and health system quality departments.
- The Mercom Capital Group reported a record $14.8 billion in digital health venture capital funding in 2020, up from $8.9 billion in 2019. The top tech categories that drew funding last year, in rank order, were telemedicine, data analytics, mobile health apps, clinical decision support tools, practice management solutions and wearable sensors.
- StartUp Health reported a record $21.6 billion in "health innovation" venture capital funding in 2020, up from $13.9 billion in 2019. The top two "high-growth sectors" were telemedicine and remote patient monitoring.
- CB Insights reported a record $26.5 billion in equity funding of digital health companies in 2020, up from $18.3 billion in 2019. The areas that attracted the most investor interest were artificial intelligence, telehealth, medical devices, mental health, women's health, omics (areas of study such as genomics and proteomics) and cybersecurity.
How Can Quality Leaders Prepare?
What's a hospital or health system quality leader like you supposed to do, other than starting your own digital health tech company and attracting millions of dollars in venture capital for your great idea? Like all inevitabilities, the answer is to prepare. Here are a few ideas that we didn't need venture capital for:
- Assess your interoperability status. As we said in our recent blog post on digital quality measures, seamless interoperability—having the ability to send, receive, find and integrate patient health information—will be foundational to using data from digital health tech to build and report your quality measures. Will your EHR system be able to handle new interoperability demands created by all these new digital health technologies?
- Learn what digital health tech you support. There's a pretty good chance that your hospital or health system is already using or supporting clinicians’ or patients’ digital health tech, likely through telemedicine or remote monitoring devices. Figure out how to capture data generated by that tech and integrate it into your quality-measurement activities and reporting responsibilities.
- Find out what digital health tech you're funding. There's also a pretty good chance that your hospital or health system is funding, whether by itself or through a Venture Capitalist group, emerging digital health technologies that it believes dovetails with the strategic clinical and financial objectives of the hospital or health system. Investigate how those technologies capture and can share patient health data with your EHR system.
- Survey your patients on their digital health use. Work with your patient experience or marketing department to learn if your patients use your portal, what health wearables they have, what remote monitoring devices they use, what their telemedicine preferences are, etc. At some point, you'll need to connect with and accept data from whatever they're connected to.
- Stay up on the latest digital health trends. Forewarned is forearmed. Make ‘keeping up with the latest digital health tech trends’ part of your job description. All of the reports we referenced above are free and publicly available. By following the money, you'll know what tech is hot and likely to generate patient health data in the future to create and submit quality measures.
There's a new patient health data ecosystem forming right before your eyes. Preparing now will help you convert the data from that ecosystem into better quality measures and better care for your patients.
Stay Ahead of the Quality Curve
Medisolv Can Help
This is a big year for Quality. Medisolv can help you along the way. Along with award-winning software you receive a Quality Advisor that helps you with all of your technical and clinical needs.
We consistently hear from our clients that the biggest differentiator between Medisolv and other vendors is the level of one-of-one support. Especially if you use an EHR vendor right now, you’ll notice a huge difference.
Erin Heilman is the Marketing Director for Medisolv, Inc.